Sept. 21, 2012
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) It was hard work under a hot sun Sept. 20, but cleaning graffiti from light poles, store windows and other objects proved a positive experience for La Sierra University freshman Michael Martinez.
“It’s almost as good as money when somebody thanks you. It feels pretty good,” said the pre-med major after helping fellow freshmen clean graffiti from a grateful Riverside shop owner’s windows.
Martinez, a graduate of Arlington High School, joined nearly 500 other La Sierra freshmen in a day of activities and community service projects intended to provide networking opportunities for new students and introduce them to La Sierra’s campus and its values prior to the start of classes on Sept. 24.
Called IGNITE, the event is coordinated by La Sierra’s Division of Student Life. Freshmen move into dorm rooms, register, eat meals together, participate in games and mixers and shake hands with La Sierra faculty and administrators during the traditional Hello Walk. The university also celebrated its incoming freshman class this year with a few choice giveaways including a $1,000 scholarship, an iPad, a laptop computer, iTunes and Best Buy gift cards.
The new students are divided into so-called family groups, each led by an upper classman who answers questions and gives advice to their new, lesser-experienced school mates. This year’s IGNITE program included, for the second consecutive year, the iServe project in which family groups are assigned community service projects. Students this year provided volunteer assistance at more than 20 agencies and organizations around Riverside. They used Riverside Transit Agency buses to reach their destinations.
Martinez’s group and others removed graffiti and cleared trash along Hole Avenue and Pierce Street. Others packaged food at Second Harvest Food Bank, raked leaves and cleaned at Lutheran Social Services’ Community Care Center, served food and played games at the Janet Goeske Foundation, visited residents of Orange Tree Nursing Center, prepped a food pantry at Queen of Angels Catholic Church, helped teachers at La Sierra Academy and performed many other volunteer tasks.